Conditions of employment

As a seafarer employed on a Danish ship, you have certain rights regarding your employment

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As a Seafarer employed on a Danish ships, you will be covered by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) entered into force on 20 August 2013 in Denmark and internationally.

The purpose of the MLC is to ensure all aspects of seafarers' conditions of employment – from the conclusion of employment contracts over the right to repatriation, to occupational health and social security. Seafarers' rights under the MLC have been transposed into Danish law by the act on seafarers' conditions of employment, etc. and by executive orders issued pursuant to this act. You can read more under the overview of regulations.

Minimum age

Young seafarers aged between 16 and 18. You must have turned 16 to go to sea.

Employment contract

You must be given a copy of the signed employment contract. The contract is your proof of what has been agreed with your employer.

Complaints procedures

You must be given a copy of the complaints procedure applying on board the ship. The complaints procedure must include contact details of the Danish Maritime Authority and of one or more persons on board who can provide confidential and impartial advice about your complaint and otherwise help you with the complaints procedures applicable to the ship.

Safety and health 

You are entitled to protection and the necessary protective equipment against accidents and health hazards during work.

Food and drink

You are entitled to good and adequate food. The food must consist of 3 main meals and 1 or more snack meals in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of all persons on board.

Spare time

You are entitled to go ashore in your spare time when the ship is in port or at a safe anchoring place, unless your presence is required on board, for example for safety reasons or due to the ship’s impending departure.


The shipowner must take out insurance or provide similar financial security covering abandoned seafarers.

Hours of rest 

You are entitled to regular rest periods that are long enough to ensure your health and safety. If you are over 18, you are entitled to at least 10 hours of rest in every working day. The hours of rest may be divided into no more than 2 periods, one of which must be at least 6 hours in length. The interval between the rest periods must be no more than 14 hours. The total hours of rest in any week must be at least 77 hours.

Personal effects

You are entitled to bring items for personal use to a reasonable extent.


As a seafarer, you are entitled to complain to your shipowner if you are dissatisfied with your working and living conditions. This includes issues related to payment of your wages, ship service, conditions of employment, accommodation spaces, recreational facilities, health protection as well as the food on board.

Payment of wages 

As a seafarer, you can demand to receive wages once a week when the ship is in port. You can demand that wages be paid out in the local currency at the current exchange rate. However, wages must be paid at regular intervals not exceeding 1 month.

Who is entitled to annual leave?

Employees on board ships, including the master, regardless of the ships' use and areas of trade are entitled to annual leave according to the order on seafarers’ holiday.

Which specific rules applies to seafarers?

In order to make the legislation at sea more flexible, the rules that applies to seafarers differ from the provisions of the act in the following areas: 

  • The employer determines after negotiations with the employee, when the leave is to be taken.
  • It is possible by collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and employee to agree to place the main holiday (summer holiday of three weeks) during the entire holiday year.
  • It is also possible by collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and employee to agree that annual leave is given as individual days and that leave is given on weekly days off, public holidays, collectively agreed or customary days off or compensatory days for this.
  • For seafarers domiciled outside Denmark, earned holiday allowance for unpaid leave is paid by the employer, FerieKonto or the person who administers the holiday allowance when the employment terminates.
  • Seafarer for whom a scheme with holiday payment card with a guarantee for the holiday pay has been arranged by collective agreement, as well as seafarers domiciled outside Denmark, will not have their holiday information reported to Feriepengeinfo (holiday pay info).

When has the seafarer earned rights to take annual leave?

The seafarer has earned a right to take annual leave after 1 months of employment. It is also possible to take paid holidays in advance, meaning that if the employee wants to take holidays and has not yet qualified for (a sufficient number of) paid holidays, an agreement with the employer can be made.

How many days of annual leave?

A seafarer that has worked for a full year will have earned right to 5 weeks of annual leave.

How is the holiday allowance calculated? 

In general, a seafarer accrue 12.5 per cent of the salary in holiday allowance. If the employment is shorter than 1 month or if there are days during a month that the seafarer does not accrue entitlement to holiday, the seafarer accrue 0.07 days of holiday for each day of employment.

Last updated: 30 April 2024